Yes, I admit it, I just got the tune to “Oh, Christmas Tree” stuck in my head. If all goes well, it is now stuck in your head, too. Now you can sing it to yourself the whole time you’re reading about my pumpkin bar making experience in Australia.
After finishing up the funny cake, which might have been on a Friday night (I’m not sure anymore!), I saved the pumpkin bars for Saturday morning. Or maybe I made the bars on Friday night, too, but I’m betting I was worn out after all the pie-crust-making. Wouldn’t you be? I made them all by hand, with memories of past pie mishaps to haunt me. I was extremely grateful that they turned out well.
My one bit of real uncertainty over the pumpkin bars was what to bake them in. The recipe calls for a jelly roll pan, but when I asked Mrs. B if she had a jelly roll pan, she asked me what a jelly roll was. I think I was able to explain it to her, eventually, but it didn’t help to figure out what size that was needed. So, I wracked my brain, trying to remember the size pan my mom and aunt use, whenever they make them.
At one point, I had bought my Aussie family a large cookie tray, and it had an edge all around the pan. But was it deep enough? What if I poured the batter into the pan, and it overflowed? Visions of scraping pumpkin mixture off the counter, and trying to get it back into the bowl, danced through my mind. Calling on several females that came in and out of the house, we eyeballed the pan and decided it was my only hope.
My girls had a high opinion of my cooking skills, by this time, which is one result if almost everything you cook or bake happens to be dessert. Ok, the buttermilk biscuits and two kinds of soup were an exception to that rule. But I flatter myself that the girls were willing to try almost anything I made, so they were quite excited to see pumpkin going into the mixer, and words like “cream cheese” and “frosting” were being spoken in the same sentence.
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin pureé (or small can Libby’s pumpkin)
Mix sugar, eggs, & oil until creamy. Mix all dry ingredients separately, then add to creamy mixture, stirring well. Then add pumpkin. Pour into jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 ° F for 20-30 minutes. Cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup butter (softened)
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
Cream the butter & cream cheese, then add milk, vanilla, & powdered sugar. Beat until fluffy. Spread on pumpkin bars when they are completely cool.
I didn’t mix up my dry ingredients separately, so I had to mix the whole batch extra well, because the spices were threatening to separate into lumps, or cling to the outside of the bowl. Eventually, I got it all mixed together, added the pumpkin, and it started to smell and taste wonderful. Out came the cookie pan, and into it went the pumpkin mixture… and I was surprised at how little room the batter took up. There was room, and to spare! Some kind of optical illusion had been tricking me, I’m sure, convincing me that I couldn’t use it. I could have made a birthday cake in there, albeit it would be a bit flatter than usual.
Carefully spreading the batter evenly around the tray, I put it in the oven to bake, having my usual bit of fun over what setting to put the oven at. For example, the back of my recipe card reads 350°F=176°C=5.2, which isn’t any algebra you ever learned, but the setting I had calculated on the knob of the oven. Numbered 1-10, could you figure out what to set an oven’s temperature to? I just paid more attention to whether my baked goods were done, using the knife test, because I didn’t trust the oven setting.
Softening up the butter and cream cheese in advance, I found the mixture to be more yellow than expected, though the pictures don’t show it. I think we must have used margarine, last time we made it at home. Doesn’t it look delicious? It was very tempting to just eat the icing, I assure you.
After the pumpkin bars were cool, I forgot to take more pictures, but I cut them up and loaded two plates of them for my Aussie family, and took the rest of the tray to my party. Where, as you’ll see, we had plenty of good food, including way too much dessert. But between my friends and family, we polished off all the leftovers, over the next few days.
In going through my pictures, I’m pretty sure I never posted these pics of the actual party. I didn’t take many, because I didn’t want to be embarrassed with any final speeches, or being forced to make one myself. I was having a hard enough time not crying when I thought about the goodbyes. I don’t know if Dave ever got due honor for the grilling, or for hosting the party. It was a small gathering of my closest friends, which is just what I wanted, and the funny part was that we were all tired from our day, so we weren’t very energetic, either. But that’s the good thing about friends, you don’t have to be bouncing off walls all the time, in order to enjoy each others company.
And so, these dessert posts have been a long time coming. So sorry, but I was too busy that week to write about them, and one thing or another always got in the way. But I couldn’t finish my time in Australia without covering them, eventually.